“That’s Asda Price” but at what cost to our local communities ?

 

Above-Swinton Shopping Precinct , community focal point under threat from Walmart-ASDA – (image copyright john coxon 2012 not to be used in any context without my consent)

REFLECTIONS ON SALFORD ADVERTISER REPORT , THURSDAY APRIL 12TH “OBJECTORS DELAY ASDA DECISION”

Even the journalist’s unfortunate headline implies that approval for this development is a foregone conclusion !Is it typical that the local free newspaper which is exclusively kept going by selling advertising space  should report what for many is a really big local issue in a somewhat  shallow and dismissive way using an artist’s impression of what the proposed Walmart –Asda super store will look like and having no community defending stance itself on the issue and possibly through vested interest not wishing to alienate a potential client for advertising space or a place to help distribute its fliers?

Mugwump journalism hardly campaigning on community issues!

Softly, softly -Hardly campaigning on behalf of community issues here !

Essentially such an image, surely very happily provided by the developers free of charge,  idealises not only the development but is suggestive of benefits to the local community which are not guaranteed.  Clearly the retail giant is fighting a PR battle to secure  the benefits they see it will bring to them and this architect’s drawing appearing will no doubt please the developers as addtional free advertising .  To suggest that another supermarket  to add to the one’s we already have within  about a square mile of the location will somehow  give the neighbourhood an identity it “lacks” at the moment is patronising and complete arrogance .  Another clumsy Walmart-ASAD PR own goal,  especially when  the big new store is  a direct threat to the sense of local community which comes with the existing precinct  which this development will help destroy. This  both by physically diminishing it ( ten retail units to be destroyed and ten flat homes) but also putting further small businesses currently based there out of business.

During the build, if it goes ahead, there will be a considerable period where existing car parks will not be accessible, causing traffic chaos and greatly harming existing businesses who are already struggling and previously hit so hard during that fateful period, thanks to the short sighted  local council ,  the car park was no longer free to use . Walmart –ASDA  on the charm offensive of course would want to exaggerate the level of support for the development and draw  self-fulfilling conclusions  where ,for example,  they claim, a  68% majority in favour of their proposal out of a modest 500 people who bothered to attend  some pseudo consultative public meeting. It is not clear if at that meeting   those respondents knew  all the implications  or whether information presented was impartial. For example were they aware of the impact on the families of those people buried in the grave yard that will be disrespected if the Wallmart get their way and one of those a war grave?

 

Walmart-Asda’s PR guy, Mr Bartman  is obviously trying to put a positive spin on things. ( wasn’t he the person who dismissed   the “disused”   grave yard as  neglected wasteland that no one cared about ?  The fella needs to realise that the current bodies have not moved and thus in no way can any grave yard be called disused or disrespected b y anyone else but his employers)

 

The Unitarian Chapel grave yard plot was landscaped but recently the owners of the land have cynically removed the landscaping shrubs you see here and which also lined the upper car park side of this sacred ground surely pressuming that the planning consent would be granted to Walmart-ASDA but also of course and attempt to deliberately make it look neglected and disrespected.

The well maintained landscaped area of the grave yard site has though  recently been officially and conveniently vandalised in a somewhat pre-emptive way, clearing away all the well maintained greenery of the landscaped shrubs  illustrating Walmart –ASDA’s and or their bed fellows’ obvious sensitivity to local feelings  and or rather actual total lack of respect of a sacred place in een thinking of having bodies exhumed and located in a mass grave elsewhere .

Evidence in the form of substantial wooden posts that once held a sign informing the public that this was a grave yard but which conveniently "disappeared" and which the current land owners cynically refused to re-instate as any public awareness of the history and sanctity of the grave site here of over 300 Swintonians would I presume interfere with their plans to cash in on the development of a proposed and unwelcome new ASDA literally over our dead bodies .

Bartman claims that the store “could” create 250 jobs   but does not of course go into any detail, asking us then to take his word for it,  nor does he  confirm whether most of any jobs created will be permanent , as , in line with other  supermarket chains, low paid part-time work is the norm to save costs, increase profit , and avoiding costs of  additional  benefits full time  employees are entitled to in law. Bartman makes the crass observation that the store will offer “more choice to shoppers “ which is a farcical statement given the range of existing businesses which includes one of Wallmart –ASDA’s market rivals a few strides  from where they propose to build this further unnecessary money cow ,  surely solely for  the  benefit of this global retail monster’s  shareholders?

 

What is sad is  the stance taken by local government representatives and their , to me gutless bean counting passing the buck  and ducking the issue of the wanton destruction of the local resting place of three hundred plus Swintonians to be exhumed and dumped elsewhere like a mixed bag of bones  so delivery lorries have a decent turning circle.  Why have they not used their own considerable statutory powers to kick this planning application into touch  already  as there are simple facts which cannot be ignored such as the insupportable increase in traffic volume , further massive parking problems during and after the build if it goes ahead? This is  a development detrimental to the existing struggling business community, that is, shops  run by the local people they were actually elected to represent .

Allow another global chain to dump itself into the community solely for non-resident profiteers and kiss good bye to small local businesses and genuine choice.

By virtue of the size of the proposed store it will no doubt pull people in from other neighbourhoods and beyond and the majority will  all be  in cars , thus further damaging businesses elsewhere , not just in Swinton, and generating even more traffic here . Those opportunist shoppers are not going to wonder through the existing Precinct, the current focus of community life despite the failings of the  current and previous landlords who are clearly going to do very nicely out of this little earner, not of course remotely interested in  increasing revenue for their already squeezed tenant retailers  .

Wallmart-Asda et al consistently increase their leeching footprint in terms of extending the range of products they sell with a view to being centres where you can buy anything in one stop till you drop shopping. This is  mirroring  typically  non-community based cities and towns in the USA  where Walmart was conceived  and where  the shopping “mall” is  the principal focus of urban life in the absence of any significant long term heritage  or sense of actually belonging somewhere . Do we really want our cherished communities to be destroyed for the Walmart’s of this world’s new Jerusalem, towns replaced by shopping resorts? This kind of development has no place in an already overcrowded local neighbourhood and should be built away from already tightly packed residential areas  where they can buy the space they need, cause minimum disruption to existing  communities  and people can then have a choice if they want to go there or not. I rest my case.

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